SoftBank leads Japanese investment in Indian start-ups

NEW DELHI, NNA - SoftBank Group Corp. dwarfed other Japanese investors in India last year, accounting for the bulk of private equity and venture capital deals.

SoftBank, along with its partners, contributed $5.25 billion or over 93 percent of $5.63 billion worth of 40 deals involving Japanese companies, according to Indian research firm Venture Intelligence.

The Japanese telecommunications giant allocated $2.5 billion and $1.4 billion to major e-commerce marketplace operators Flipkart Group and One97 Communications Ltd., respectively.

It also invested $1.1 billion in ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd., the provider of leading ride-hailing app Ola, along with co-investors such as China's internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and poured another $250 million with other investors into online hotel aggregator Oyo.

Meanwhile, JERA Co., an energy joint venture between TEPCO Fuel & Power Inc. and Chubu Electric Power Co., also invested in India's energy sector for the first time, acquiring a 10 percent stake for $200 million in ReNew Power Venture Pvt. Ltd., a renewable energy company.

"Japanese investors are bullish on India, especially SoftBank," said Arun Natarajan, chief executive officer of Venture Intelligence. "Japanese private equity and venture capital investments in India are growing, and we expect similar trends to continue."

Already, since the start of this year, Tokyo-based consulting firm Dream Incubator Inc. has revealed a plan to launch a 5 billion yen ($4.5 million) fund to invest in Indian technology start-ups in the digital sphere.

The firm will start with a smaller amount in February or March and continue to raise the fund up to 5 billion yen, Munehiko Eto, head of Dream Incubator's Indian operations, told NNA in an email.

The fund will target local ventures in fintech and smartphone-based entertainment sectors as well as solution techs in health, education and human resources. (NNA/Kyodo)